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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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34

Monday 22nd September 2014

When Life is Short & Everything is Changing

It’s all changing. I stand at the window, on a Monday and see it from my window — how it’s all changing.

Summer’s leaves have begun to blush toward fall.
Our fields are a lion’s mane yellow.
This older face is looking back at me, in the window reflection. She is a blur of the girl I once was and the woman I’m still becoming.

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My oldest daughter asked me this morning to make her an omelet with arugula and feta cheese. How did this happen? Just yesterday, she was eating Lucky Charms and drinking juice from a sippy. The car has 88,532 miles on it. Three of this summer’s kittens have died. Some of our best friends moved back to the neighborhood, and one of our oldest friends is on hospice. I can’t run as fast as I used to without getting winded, and the eye doctor says I need to up my prescription. But I see some things, maybe the most important things, more clearly than I ever did before.

I’m still learning to see. I’ve asked God for Kingdom eyes.

At night, my husband and I watch Downton Abbey or Mad Men together on NetFlix. He has to push pause when I get the characters all mixed up or when I forget the previous night’s plot twist. We still call each other the same secret pet names that we’ve always had for each other. Meanwhile, we’ve discovered new ways to flirt and new ways to keep this remarkable love alive. We’re in it for the long haul. My hand still feels so warm in his. And we’re relearning spontaneity.

In eight years, it will be just the two of us in this house, which we built on this farm. We had only begun our family back then. It felt then like a whole lifetime was stretched out in front of us, but now one elastic band of time has snapped us to here.

Quick, this life.

I still remember the “new house smell,” a perfume of carpet fiber and sawdust. I noticed today how the paint is chipped in the kitchen, and how our curtains are outdated — at least I think they are. I keep meaning to do something about all of that, but then I forget, because it has lost its importance to me.

My favorite farmer will be in the fields soon, and then maybe by Thanksgiving, our little world will be draped in a duvet of white. And we’re all kind of sad that my Dad can’t help with harvest this year because he broke a bone.

There were new songs on the Christian radio station this morning, and I rather liked them. But last night, I feel asleep with one of my favorite old hymns echoing in my heart chambers. I didn’t even make it to the second verse.

The news had a big story on climate change this morning, and there was more bad news. I overheard it on the TV while I was flipping my daughter’s omelet, trying to make sure the arugula didn’t fall out the side. And everyone around our part of the world has been talking about how this summer was really the fastest summer of all. We say that every year.

My garden, it’s still pushing out tomatoes. Only recently have I begun to enjoy avocados alongside the tomatoes, and I love eating avocado straight out of the shell, spooning it out in mounds of green while humming to myself in the kitchen. There’s always something new to taste, to see, as we take this pass through life. And that’s all we get, one pass.

I cannot assume that I will have tomorrow to look out this window, and I don’t want to miss today.

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It’s all changing. That’s what I’m thinking when I’m looking out the window, and the clouds are charging east, against the blue dome of heaven.

But change doesn’t feel scary anymore, not like it used to. It seems like I no longer view life as a “slipping away,” but a slipping toward. Maybe this is the grace God gives the aging.

The Slipping Toward… Toward some new taste on my spoon, toward the voice of a new friend, toward some new way to describe the color of the fields outside my kitchen window. It’s “lion’s mane yellow” today.

Maybe it’s because I have begun to see that when everything else changes, God stays the same. He’s the steady captain of this ship I’m on, and we’ve ridden through all kinds of waters and seasons, and the only thing that ever stayed the same was God. I see Him there, and He’s wearing the same sailor cap on His head that He wore when I was a little girl. He looks at me, and His face looks a little leathery — the look of a Man who’s been willing to stand in the heat for me.

And so we ride on, come what may.

To the lion’s mane fields, I say, this: I hope I see you tomorrow.

But if not, look toward the sky, o lion. For I’ll be with my captain.

  • This post sings, Jennifer. I feel the mysterious passage of time, and how perception shifts when we see it with kingdom eyes.

    I love this article. I appreciate the view from here.
    Love you

    • Thank you for “tracking” with me, Kris. It was sort of stream of consciousness, and a little different from the way I usually write … but just really from the gut, and I hope it captured the heart of things for me, right now, and hopefully for others, too. Thanks friend.

  • My heart hangs heavy with all the changing,Jennifer. I’m asking for Kingdom eyes and slower paces as my babies are disappearing before my eyes. Regret is a sneaky little snake that my heel keeps trying to crush. Some days, I miss his head altogether. But then they’re other days, when I dance all over him with glee.
    Thank you for your eyes and the nudge to hold on to Jesus.

    • Grateful for you in this space today, Lori. Thanks for hearing my heart. (Regret like a snake… yeah, I get that.)

  • KristinHillTaylor

    Change used to terrify me. Like cry-my-eyes-out terrifying. God has shown me how seasons and changes are good for our soul, especially when we’re seeking him in the midst of it all. He’s making us more and more like him, little by little, day by day. Your post? It’s beautiful and encompasses the message of change God has already been speaking to my heart. The way you tell it is lovely and true.

    • Thank you, Kristin. So glad my heart came through here. It felt a little rambly, and I wasn’t sure if anyone would be able to make sense of the mush of words. So, thanks. 🙂 xo

  • Chris Malkemes

    A ship sailing in the “changing” waters with the Captain at the helm – what a beautiful picture, my Jennifer Dukes Lee, what a beautiful truth.
    A ship left in the harbor gets nowhere very fast.
    I wonder if the Captain is as excited as we are with the adventure of it all and that soon, pretty soon, we’ll land on the planned shore of heaven?
    I know He’s got so much to show us there.
    I mentioned to Him the other day: “Sir, I hope my mansion has all kinds of photographs of the amazing times You’ve intervened on my behalf. I don’t want to forget. I always want to remember the faithfulness of Your faithfulness.”
    It’s me, girl, riding right along side of you.
    But, in Florida, outside my window pane, isn’y lion mane fields but moss covered sunsets.
    Have a great day, my friend, have a great day. Yours always ~ Chris

  • Susan

    I am quite a bit older than you, Jennifer, so your comments could be mine, “on steroids”, as they say. “and how our curtains are outdated…because it has lost its importance to me,” I definitely understand your heart in these comments – I learned about 6 years ago as I watched my mom grow old, that she never lost her fervor for making her home pretty and cozy (it was a mere one-bedroom apt) and I decided right there and then that I wouldn’t either, no matter what. My eyes are definitely on The Kingdom and “home” with the captain sounds wonderful but for today I want to enjoy all that is around me!

  • Loved this post, Jennifer! I actually did vlog today that talked about choosing better in the moment right in front of us. Last week my kids were in town for the week. So I did the work I had to do and let the rest sit. Oddly enough, what had to get done did and the rest just waited! And the memories we made will last us until our next visit. Change does happen fast, that’s why we need to savor every moment and wring every drop out of it and remember it as long as we can!

  • Beautiful, precious words, Jennifer. So moving and touching…and so real to me as I consider my own life passing so quickly. The days blur into weeks, then months, faster than I can even keep up anymore. I want to slow things down, but the more I try to clutch tightly to the moments, the quicker they slip from my feeble grasp. So fleeting…this thing called life. The other day I stood eye-to-eye with our sweet boy….just yesterday, it seems I was stooping to take a hold of his little hand reaching up to mine….okay, crying now! God bless you, your farmer, and your dear girls.

  • Judy Gordon Morrow

    Wow, did this ever speak to me today as one who is wondering how I got to this decade in my life, when I am still so aware of the irrepressible child within. I love the phrase “slipping forward,” and I thank you for the gift of that God-given spin on “slipping away.” Our unchanging God continues to teach me that the seasons of life are meant to be savored, and I’m grateful how he used you today, Jennifer, to remind me again of that sacred truth. One thing I’m savoring today is your beautiful, inspired writing–thank you!

  • lindalouise

    Well, I’m all teary eyed and happy at the same time. I love this Jennifer. I just love it. There is so much change going on in my life now too – and this is so sweetly encouraging. xoxo

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  • A slipping toward – yes. Such a beautiful post. Life is so full of change and yet He remains, steady and unchanging. Precious moments we have here and then a new life. A slipping toward – yes!

  • Jennifer, I just love reading your posts…they breathe calm, peaceful living!

  • Heather Dawkins

    I love your way with words. So beautiful. Thank you once again..

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Gorgeous, Jennifer….a kind of flowing stream-of-consciousness writing at its best. Your writing has slid forward to perfection here. I smiled when I read about Lydia and her arugula omelet. Just last night, Sheridan made us a Caprese salad with red-ripe tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, soft mozzarella slices, and balsamic vinaigrette. I’m no gourmet, but I like out-of-the-ordinary fare. But I wasn’t familiar with this one. How did our little “I-don’t-like-vegetables-and-I’m-NOT-going-to-try-new-ones” princess grow to be a twenty-two-year-old gastronomically discriminating chef? Yes, she changed overnight. It happened just that quickly. You’re right to savor every moment, every change, every slippage forward, because with every forward motion, I can tell that you are taking along a memory too good to leave behind. Thank you for this exquisite–I mean REALLY EXQUISITE–post!
    Love
    Lynn

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Oh Jennifer….I beg your indulgence, but two things more: I was so amused when I read about you and Scott and Downtown Abbey. Michael says we can never get through a single episode without about forty-million interruptions on my part, but he puts up with me (and has for over forty years). WE LOVE DOWNTON. And Kingdom Eyes (what Mary Whelchel calls Forever Eyes)…..I continusouly ask God for eyes to see things eternal, things that matter, things beneath the surface of things. It’s what I teach women when I teach them about journaling. It’s one of the best ways for Kingdom Eyes to see–when we pick up our pens and write to God.
    Love you!!
    L

  • Karrilee Aggett

    So – it’s no surprise, I love you more and more and this post? This one, in particular, makes me want to hop on a plane and come sit with you… stare out that window across those fields and just be. Kindred, my friend! And Sisters, indeed!

  • Marcy Hanson

    Holy crap that last line made me cry. All the way through I was brimming, but that last line-hook line and sinker, my friend. Just beatutifl. That is all.

  • My life is changing right in front of me, and there isn’t anything I can do. I must give up control, to the One who knows best. I too ask for Kingdom eyes, to see beyond the altars I’ve built for myself to His will for my life. May those self-made altars come tumbling down. I will embrace and welcome the change!

  • pastordt

    So lovely. Thank you, dear Jennifer.

  • Boy, am I feeling it, too, Jennifer. Thank you for saying it so artfully.

  • I can so identify with this post. The older I grow, the more I realize this life is not really what it is all about. Sure, this life has its moments of joy, but really, its the next life that we should long for. This life is simply the beautiful prelude to the next. I love ‘slipping toward’. Such a lovely way to put it.

  • John D Blase

    Your words are so true…I must confess to dragging my boots though, some of the change just hurts. And we watch Mad Men together too, she thinks Don Draper is quite handsome and I say ‘oh, maybe, I guess.’

  • marthaorlando

    Yes . . . slipping toward and enjoying each moment in which we find ourselves. Such a true and beautiful sentiment, Jennifer. Blessings!

  • “But change doesn’t feel scary anymore, not like it used to. It seems like I no longer view life as a “slipping away,” but a slipping toward. Maybe this is the grace God gives the aging.” Grace has taught me to turn into all the changes this stage of life has to give…. Yes… a turning… embracing… and knowing the Captain is taking us on a journey Homeward… first deeper into His heart… and eventually into eternity!!!

  • Debbie Hintze

    I admit I use to hate change…but lately, like you Jennifer, I have taken to sitting back and watching the changes happen. I am learning (almost said I have learned it but I am still learning) to allow God to make the changes He needs to make as He is the Captain of my life. Coming from the rush of NY and working 12 – 18 hours a day, 6 days a week in ministry, to sitting here in my little God chosen apartment in Iowa learning to just sit and be still, I am looking forward to see what change He has in store for me next. I love this post, it made me sit here and smile. Thank you Jennifer, your words speak what is in my heart…

  • Jenny Griffis

    Is it weird to sit and marvel at what growing older does to one’s body? The changes it makes? I guess you’d say I’m in the evening of my life now and things are slowing down, thankfully. I keep telling myself to pay attention more, to savor more, to expect less and complain less. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. I am STILL working on letting God have control of my life (Captain, oh Captain!). I so want Him to be, but I keep a firm grip on all the stress and stuff that makes me crazy…why? I really want someone else to take over. It wears me down, makes me physically ill and mentally vulnerable, not to mention the accumulating gray hairs. I need help and prayers! Please?!

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Wow……… how you captured this season of your life–all our lives–with such beauty. What a gift your words are.

  • This is gorgeous Jennifer, captures your beautiful heart ponderings and paints a lovely, warm picture of life lived well and intentional.

  • “I’ve asked God for Kingdom eyes.” I’m adding that to my own hearts cry. Blessed by your words Jennifer.

  • So beautiful! We do best to see God in every step. And in case you were wondering my favorite part of this post 🙂 There were new songs on the Christian radio station this morning, and I rather liked them. But last night, I feel asleep with one of my favorite old hymns echoing in my heart chambers. I didn’t even make it to the second verse.

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